The New Jersey State Museum & Planetarium grants residents and visitors a lifelong education in science, history, and the arts through its collections, exhibitions, programs, publications, and scholarship. Founded in 1895 and accredited by the American Association of Museums, the complex holds more than 2.6 million artifacts, specimens, and works of art in its collections. These pieces pique viewer curiosity in themed exhibits, exploring art periods, relationships between Native Americans and European settlers, natural history, and other topics.
The Archaeology & Ethnography Collection highlights textiles, beads, and hide works from Delaware Indians and other North American?natives. The Fine Art Collection assembles works by American modernists and abstract artists. Massive Trenton-made furnishings, Civil War?flags, and maritime artifacts are among the fascinating objects in the Cultural History exhibits, and the Natural History Collection houses prehistoric fossils?many from New Jersey?and insect, animal, and geological specimens. The museum is also home to the 150-seat Planetarium, which dazzles eyes with images of the solar system, faraway stars, and astronaut training during shows. Audiences witness traditional sky projections and laser-created programs comprised of 6,000 stars on the ceiling of the full 360-degree dome.
The Old Barracks was constructed in 1758 to house British soldiers during the French and Indian War. Since then, the barracks have seen many turbulent times, including serving as a military hospital during the American Revolution. Now converted into a museum, patrons can walk through the barracks, read about colonial and American history, and view 18th-century artifacts and weapons. 45-minute guided tours are also offered on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Conceived as part of sculptor Seward Johnson's impressionistic vision, Rat's Restaurant transports degusting diners into Claude Monet's beloved town of Giverny with cosmopolitan home cooking served overlooking a delicate lily pond. Launch your exploration into head chef Shane Cash's exceptional dinner menu with the petit escargot, featuring lemon verbena, escargot butter, and parsley tortellini ($15). Sophisticated palates can decorate themselves with a delectable selection of entrees, including Scottish halibut, a fresh pan-roasted catch accompanied by cauliflower puree and almond-caper meuniere sauce ($30). Before stepping into the attached Grounds For Sculpture galleries and discovering the secrets of scratch-n-see artwork, enjoy sips from a menu of hand-crafted cocktails and an eclectic wine list.